David

reading

It is moments like these that I wish my son had never been brought into this world. Perhaps not nonexistent,  but born during a simpler time, when men lived indebted to everyone around them but still somehow had enough money to put food on the table and buy their children toys.

“Mama,” he asks me softly, the sound of sleep evident in his tiny voice. “Why have you stopped?”

“I’m sorry, Davie. I got lost in my thoughts again. Where was I?” He looks up at me with his big, brown eyes, so dark that the pupils are hidden, as if eclipsed. He has his father’s eyes.

“You were telling me about the pretty girl with the yellow hair, whose daddy has been away.”

“Oh, yes. Lucy.”

“Lucy.”

Every night I read him these stories, finishing just as his father gets home from a long day of work to put him to bed. Looking at him, with his tiny head resting on my breast, I can’t help but see him as a remnant of purity in these dark and trying days.

In the mornings, before I wake David to help him get ready for school, my husband and I have breakfast together. He boils the water for our instant coffee, while I get a tablespoon of butter to spread on our toast, and we sit together at the table long before the sun comes out. I ask him about work and he asks about David, and we do not speak of unpleasant things. We will not see each other again until the sun has come and gone, and by then we are both too tired from working and living to say much of anything. When the time comes, the sun finally peeks in through the windows, discovering our secret meetings and chasing us away.

“Hey mommy?”

“Yes David?”

I am making us a small dinner, distracted as I try to calculate how to make the food last for the rest of the week, until we are given more. I continue on, cutting and cooking, for several minutes until I realize that it has been silent. Turning around, I look down at my son, whose brow is furrowed in thought as he picks at the slice of bread that I gave him to hold him over before dinner.

“Are you feeling okay, sweetie?” I ask worriedly.

“Yeah.” He replies shortly.

Setting my knife down, I lower the heat on the stove and grab the bread from his hands, dusting the crumbs off of them. He is still quiet and serious, so I kneel down and grab his hands, staring at them intently to get his attention.

“Mom?” He asks confused.

“I don’t know if I’ve gotten all of the crumbs off. Nobody likes having a little boy running around with sticks hands. Hm.” I take his hands and pull them towards my mouth, playfully pretending to nibble on his small fingers. He lets out a startled yelp, before giggling. It is the most beautiful sound that I have heard all day. I think that if the rich men that greedily thrive during this great depression were able to hear this sound, their hearts of stone would soften. I scoop him up, and deposit him on the worn out sofa in the center of the room. “What’s got you all mopey, grumpy gills?” I ask him teasingly.

He looks at me and I know that he is debating whether or not to tell me what is on his mind. He is almost nine years old now and is already much too conscious concerning the emotions of adults. “I really want to know.” I tell him more seriously.

He takes a loud breath and begins. “Today at school, Timothy told me that we were all poor, and that other people are rich and mean and won’t help us. Like the people from the book we are reading.”

A Tale of Two Cities?”

He nods, his light brown hair bouncing into his eyes as he does. I make a mental note to cut it soon, waiting for him to continue.

“He said that there used to be rich people, and poor people, and people in the middle. And that one day, everything collapsed so that everyone was poor except for the really, really rich people. He said that the rich people tried to help, but then stopped because they were mean and hurt the poor people and then he said that is was their own fault because the poor people were being dumb. Are we dumb?”

I look at him, trying to keep up as he gets all of this out, and feel a pang. It is the same pang that I feel when I see how tall he is getting or how much he is beginning to understand the world around him. He looks up at me expectantly, and I swallow thickly, knowing that I have to make a decision. I think of my husband, and what he would say, and know that he would tell me to tell the truth, because my husband is an honest man who tries to lead his family to accept the currents of these times and not fight against them or pretend that they aren’t there. I think of David, my little boy, and know that he will not be tainted by this information as I have irrationally feared he might be, for he is much too pure to be changed, even by the poison of evil men.

“We are not dumb. You, in fact, are a very bright little boy.” He smiles proudly, waiting for me to continue.  “Timothy was right about certain things.” I pause. “A long time ago…before you were born, when I was myself just a child, our country was in a very bad place. We owed everybody money, as a country and as people. During this time, there were rich people, poor people, and people who were somewhere in the middle. As several years passed by, the people in the middle became more and more poor. Eventually everything collapsed and there were only the rich and the poor.”

I take a breath, looking at David to see if he is following. He nods at me and waits. I do not want to continue but do.

“People began living as we do. Mom’s and dad’s working all day to make enough money to pay for places to live and going to the government buildings once a week to get food. Eventually it seemed that there were more people living in the streets or in overcrowded shelters than in houses.”

“Like homeless people, mommy?”

“Yes. Like homeless people. Before long, people started getting sick. Not with colds, but with something much worse. Doctor’s couldn’t figure out how to treat the disease, and people began to die.”

“Were there rats in the streets covered in blood?”

I smile. “No David. This wasn’t anything like The Plague.”

“Oh. What was it like then?”

“Well…the disease was almost like some sort of off switch. Like when you turn off the tv on Saturday mornings. One second it is on and the person is walking and talking, and the next it is like their bodies just began to shut down. The organs stopped doing what they were supposed to and the person just turned off, almost without warning.”

“Can we still get it?” He asks, eyes full of fear.

“No, honey. Doctors found a way to fix it.” I do not tell him that people are still dying from it in certain parts of the country. He is still too young to live in fear.

“Good,” he says relieved. “Then what happened?”

“After a while, the doctors figured out that if they could give the sick people new organs, some of them were able to live long enough to work through the time that it took for the disease to run its course and be okay.”

“New organs?”

“Like transplants. Do you remember that show that movie that you saw in school where the girl got a new kidney?” He nods. “Like that.”

“Where did they all come from, mommy?”

I wince. “Some people gave them because they felt bad and wanted to help. Some gave them after they were old and passed away. But…but eventually as several years went by, there weren’t enough donors…that is people to give their organs. Those who had a lot of money began to pay everybody else to donate. People were so poor and needed the money so much that they tried to donate too much. They cared more about feeding their families than about themselves.”

“Like you and daddy with working?” My son asks me, his eyes sad. I bite the inside of my lip, hard, to quell the emotions that rise up within me.

“No, kiddo. Not like mommy and daddy. Mommy and daddy do love you more than anything in the universe, but we are doing okay.”

He smiles hesitantly and nods, crawling over my knees and into my lap. Resting his head on my shoulder, he asks…”and then what happened?”

“People kept giving too much and getting hurt, until one day a group got together and said that enough was enough. They went before congress, who at this time were running around like chickens with their heads cut off…” David laughs and I wait for him to quiet down. “like chickens…” I begin again purposely. He laughs and I look at him with mock consternation.

“Are you going to let me finish?”

“Yes…yes!” He replies out of breath, attempting to look serious and stop laughing. I smile at him and wait until I’m sure he will make it.

“ A group got together before congress and said that this was wrong and against everything that our country stood for. They said that we should not have to go to such extreme measures to feed our children. Congress heard them and made it illegal for people to donate an organ without passing a series of examinations. Even then, they were only allowed to donate once throughout an entire lifetime.”

“I think that was the right thing to do, right mommy?” David asks.

“Right, smarty pants.”

He shifts in my lap, and his stomach growls loudly, causing him to giggle.

“Someone’s hungry,” I say, lifting him up and setting him down in a chair. “Finish your bread and work on homework. Dinner is almost done.”

I walk to the stove and watch as he dumps the contents of his backpack onto the table. I know that he is still processing the story that I’ve told of our country’s dark past, and that it will take years for him to grasp what he has heard. I also know that he is much too bright and knowing, and that I will have to answer his questions for weeks to come. I pour him some milk to curb his appetite and carry it over, quietly setting it down next to him as he thanks me distractedly. Watching as he stacks a pile of his favorite books at the table’s edge, I grab them, putting them into the makeshift bookcase that my husband made. Leafing through a copy of David Copperfield, I wonder when the little Artful Dodger stole it from my collection.

As I look from the book to my own little, Daisy, I can’t help but feel lighter. I know that I have made the right decision.

When night comes, we reach the end of our story, and I am reading: ““I see a beautiful city and a brilliant people rising from this abyss. I see the lives for which I lay down my life, peaceful, useful, prosperous and happy. I see that I hold a sanctuary in their hearts, and in the hearts of their descendants, generations hence. It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.”

I close the book and David mumbles something, snuggling closely to me.

“What, Davey?”

“ I said that I see it too, mommy.” He whispers before falling asleep.

I look down at my son and smile. “Me too.”

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The Interview

helmet

Displayed below is a transcript of the audio recording of the last documented interview conducted at Resistance Camp 121, with Unity Soldier, Corporal Dawson: Male soldier, Caucasian, mid twenties. This recording was recovered in the Camp’s ruins, and contains the following audio recording:

“Hello again, Mr. Dawson. Care to continue yesterday’s conversation?”

“I am not sorry for what I did, even though you want me to be. That’s why you’re on this fishing expedition, right? So that you can record those of us that you’ve captured, as we grovel and beg for mercy? They told us you would do this.”

“Just jumping right into it today, are we? Alright, I’ll bite. Who told you?”

“The Unity of course. Who else? Even worse, they told us that you would have us sputter out some bullshit about peace and equality for all people. As if that’s even possible.”

“Do you wish it were possible?”

“Do I wish it were possible for my people and your people to hold hands and sing fucking kumbaya? Hell no.”

“Tsk, tsk. Language Mr. Dawson.”

“You keep your kind away from us. Better yet, don’t. Keep me here until they come break me out. They always come for their kind. I don’t know why you even still bother when we’ve exterminated half of your population.”

“You’re proud of that, aren’t you?”

“Proud? Am I proud? I am the Unity. We are not proud. We have a mission. We have a society to keep running and a way of life to sustain. You’re asking about me? There is no me. Only us.”

“Do you enjoy it?”

“I don’t enjoy much of anything anymore. Enjoyment is a useless amenity. It does not contribute to the Unity. It does not eradicate your kind. It does not bring us any closer to achieving a world without impurity.”.

“You really believe in all of that don’t you? It’s why we found you slamming your fists into the man that you killed when you infiltrated our camp. It was quite the scene. Mr. Dawson…..Mr. Dawson?”

“Captive is unresponsive. He refuses to respond. I will wait…”

“That’s not it.”

        “He speaks. Welcome back, Mr. Dawson.”

“Aaron. Shit, my name is Aaron.”

“Okay, Aaron.”

“I wasn’t hitting him because I believe in what they told me about racial inferiority and the betterment of our species. I was hitting him because I’m angry. I am angry at the lies that men spout of valor and bravery. I’m mad at the authors that glorified the art of war in the books that we were assigned to read in the academy. I’m mad that we have been hunting you down for over ten years now, yet you survive like cockroaches, fleeing in fear, without weapons or resources to fight us like a formidable opponent. I am so fucking angry. Why do you think I was using my fists instead of my gun?”

“So you kill for the Unity because you’re angry?”

“You don’t understand. There is no other way. We have to kill you. When you’re dead, this will all be over. You have to die. All of you. Every single last one. There is no other way.”

“Surely you don’t believe that this is the only option? You..”

“Shit. Don’t you have any caffeine in this rat hole? My head is throbbing”

Rustling can be heard, as well as the scraping of a chair. A door opens and clicks shut. It opens again in a minute before clicking shut again.

“I don’t need the hot water. Haven’t had it that way in a while. Just give me the grounds.”

“That’s a bit unorthodox.”

“It’s the only way that I get enough of it anymore. You just slip it right into your lip…like so.”

“You’re addicted you know. It’s possible to become addicted to caffeine.”

“Ha. No shit. There’s no turning back now though, huh? No matter. It’s a necessary evil with what we do. Long hours. I picked up the habit when I first started. Even when I’m not dipping, I can’t seem to get the taste out of my mouth. Like everything else, you do something long enough, it becomes a part of you. An extra limb or layer.”

“I suppose.”

“It’s chemical inspiration, is what it is. Keeps the body alert and humming, even with the weariness.”

“Weariness?”

“Yeah. Weariness. It’s different than being tired. The caffeine can’t help with that. Nothing can. Weary. W-e-a-r-y. Look it up.”

“I know what it is, Aaron. I’m just wondering why you keep doing what you do, when you don’t seem to be like them. You aren’t ruthless. You don’t believe in the ways of hatred that the Unity proclaims. I have interviewed killers, and you don’t exactly fit the bill…”

“Aaron? ……….. Subject has once again become unresponsive. I will wait….”

Audio is silent for five minutes.

“You’re wrong.”

“Excuse me?”

“I will renew my contract every time my term is completed. The day that men stop volunteering is the day that my little brother is drafted. And instead of soldiers being eighteen or nineteen, they will be fourteen and thirteen…and that is wrong. So I look at these people; these vermin that just won’t die… they’re like rodents. We leave traps and we hunt them. Some of us even pray for their demise.”

“Is that even allowed? Does God hear those kind of prayers, Mr. Dawson?”

“Did you hear that?”

“What is it?”

There is an indistinct rumbling followed by the muffled sound of screaming.

“They’ve come for me. For you.”

“No. No, you’re wrong.”

The noises increase, the sound of boots on cement.

“Guards! We need to evacuate. Guards? …..”

“Evan,  It doesn’t have to be like this. We didn’t do anything wrong. Please, you’re not a killer.”

The sound of breaking glass.

“You’re wrong. I am. It’s become who I am, like everything else. And you know what? I want to kill. I want to eliminate. I want to exterminate and eradicate. I want this war over. I want this to end. And I want you all dead.”

Something slams in the background. A man screams, until his cries become a faint gurgling noise. The sound of static can be heard, before the tape cuts off.

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The Assignment

homework

Oliver left the room with a determined glint in his eye. The teacher had commissioned the class of twelve year olds to explore the realm of language composition by creating their own, working definition of “home”. It was this task that filled and bowed the small brunette head as it entered the school bus, causing the boy to stumble on the first step and knock his knee into the second.

“Pay attention, kid!” A rough voice grumbled.

Startled brown eyes met the glare of the old man whose bushy eyebrows were furrowed in angry consternation.

“Sorry,” Oliver mumbled, gingerly rubbing his right knee. The old man continued to scowl at him, and he quickly averted his eyes, catching his own reflection in the mirror above. His cheeks were pink with embarrassment and hair horribly disheveled. In the corner of the mirror, a small photograph caught his attention. The picture appeared to be old as it was wrinkled and yellowing, held by a crinkled piece of tape. It depicted a pretty woman with greying hair, smiling broadly at something to her left, just out of the frame.

When several seconds had passed, the old man cleared his throat loudly, interrupting Oliver’s examination.

“Sir…” the boy began hesitatingly, stealing himself to meet the old man’s eyes. “What is home?”

The bus driver gave a murderous look that quickly softened as his eyes followed the boy’s previous preoccupation, landing upon the woman. He hesitated before responding:

“Home is where her memory went/ When she forgot my name/ Before her brain got warped and bent,/ like road blocks in street lanes.”

Oliver nodded solemnly and took a seat in the back of the bus. He remained silent for the rest of the trip.

The bus eventually slowed to a stop, and Oliver exited as students screamed and talked, pushing one another and eliciting half-hearted reprimands from the bus driver, who soon closed the doors and sped off.  Saying goodbye to his friends, Oliver began walking the half-mile that it took to get to his house, jumping over sidewalk cracks and contemplating his assignment.

As he walked, Oliver looked into various shop windows, squeezing past groups of people before pausing in front of a man sitting on one of the many benches that lined the sidewalk. Judging by his tattered clothes and gathered belongings, the man appeared to be homeless and wore a ski cap that covered long and oily, brown hair that he paused to brush aside before taking a drag from his cigarette. On his lap lay a sketchpad, and upon further inspection, Oliver realized that the man had drawn a helmet resembling that of a soldier. The helmet was quite realistic and the man’s hands were stained with the charcoal that he had used.

“That’s a very good sketch,” Oliver cautiously complimented.

The man looked up and chuckled, giving his thanks before taking another drag from his cigarette.

Oliver took a step forward, as if to leave, and then stopped.

“Sir…” Oliver ventured. The man, who had gone back to his shading, looked up again. “What is home?”

The man scrutinized the boy, as if he were looking for something, and sensing no maliciousness, he sighed and put his cigarette out on the bottom of his brown boot. Oliver waited patiently before the man responded with a faraway look in his eyes:

“Home’s the place where bombs don’t fall/ and good friends never died./ Back when I could still stand tall/ and these damn dogs would lie.”

Oliver furrowed his brow in thought, trying to understand. After a moment, he nodded, and said, “thank you sir,” before continuing on his way.

Oliver walked two more blocks, passing by familiar rows of run down apartments. Looking to his left, he saw a teenager, perhaps high school age, sitting on a stoop, sporting a matching sports cap and jersey.

Coming closer, Oliver noticed that the teenager was sifting through a stack of mail, pausing to look at a set of colorful, stiff papers that appeared to be brochures.

“Hi.” Oliver said to catch his attention.

“Shit kid! You scared me.” The teenager exclaimed angrily, before laughing self-consciously.

“Sorry,” Oliver apologized sheepishly. Looking down at the papers, he read the bright yellow letters which spelled out: UNI-VER-SITY. “Are you going to that college?’ he asked, pointing.

The teenager looked down at his stack and pursed his lips. “That’s the plan kid,” he said, raising his eyebrows up and down.

Oliver nodded. “Can I ask you a question?”

“Shoot.” The teenager responded easily.

“What is home?”

He waited, watching the teenager carefully, as he did the other two men. Something seemed to happen as the youth’s eyes darkened, and Oliver attempted to identify the emotions being displayed. Sadness…anger…hopelessness? Before he could pinpoint it, however, it was gone, and the teenager confidently replied:

“Home is what I plan to build/ when I become a man./ I have seen three people killed/ where men have guns for hands”

Oliver felt respect for the older boy, and smiled at him, giving him his thanks. He waved goodbye as he walked away, and pondered more before finally reaching his apartment. When he unlocked the front door, he was met with the smell of food, and the voice of his mother.

“…not sure mom. He hasn’t even called to speak to him in the past two weeks, never mind send me money to help pay for things. Hang on a sec, I think Ollie’s home.”

Taking off his shoes at the door, Oliver looked up to see his mother’s head peak around the corner. “Hey you! I’ll be with you in a couple of minutes. I’m on the phone with grandma.”

Oliver nodded as she disappeared around the corner, setting his schoolbag on the sofa. Walking into his room, he sat down at a small desk, pulling out a notebook from one of the drawers. Oliver sat there staring at the blank page and thought about the bus driver and the artist. He thought about the teenager on the stoop, and his mother and father. Home was not a house to him, nor did it seem to be for any of the people he had spoken to. It wasn’t a mom, dad and dog, brothers and sisters. “Home” appeared to be something more. Some intangible ideal, like “Freedom,” “Hope,” or “Love.

Picking up his pencil and getting out a thesaurus, Oliver wrote…

“Home is what we hope will come/ when everything is wrong/ A place with never-ending sun/ and everlasting song./ It’s where our loved ones always are/ and things once lost are found./ Those dreams we wished for on a star/ when we were most profound.”

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The World is Melting

clay

The world was melting around him.

The woods, once silent, aside from the chirping of birds and buzzing of insects, was now filled with the ceaseless sound of dripping water. Droplets fell onto his head from the canopy of trees above as if there were a slow and steady rain, running through his hair and down the back of his neck as his boots crunched the snow below, feet mindlessly following the trails that crisscrossed the forest before shooting off into different directions.

The world is melting, the boy mused. How strange.

The sound of flowing water woke him from his musings as the small streams that he would usually walk beside or jump over were now rushing with life. The clay that lay at the bottom of these small ravines colored the water a bright orange that almost appeared red. In contrast to the blanket of white and muted browns and greens, one would think it a bit unsettling. However, it did not appear out of place. Gushing crimson water somehow suited a world that was melting.

As the path leveled off, he knew that it was close to its’ end, a fact that was soon confirmed by a sudden incline that made the back of his calves twinge. Using a hanging tree limb, the boy hoisted himself over the ground above him, no longer surrounded by compact, frozen soil, but instead a fluffier snow which covered a great mound of rocks. He had reached the tracks.

Walking along the eroded railway always evoked a strange and primitive peace in the boy. It was an entity that appeared endless and suited to those prone to wandering. He pondered this as he balanced himself on the steel rail of the track, knowing that he might fall at any given point due to the thin layer of ice that coated the cold steel. He didn’t care. Taking the heel of his black boot, the boy broke through the layer of ice before slowly sliding it off of the rail, continuing the process with his next step by following its’ indent. It was in this fashion that he walked for the next half hour before realizing that he should turn around and return to his dormitory. His face was numb from the cold, chapped and pink, and he was in need of a shower as the snow had somehow managed to worm its way through his protective layers, wetting his socks, pants, and thermal shirt in the process. The smell of frozen earth mingled with sweat was not a pleasant one, regardless of how comforting it was.

He turned around and hopped from wooden plank to wooden plank, his deep, blue eyes staring blankly ahead from behind crooked spectacles. Drops of moisture slid down the frozen ends of his black hair and into his eyes, blurring his vision, and he swiped them away, absentmindedly. At a glance, one might take in the boy’s appearance and think him to have always belonged to these woods, and they to him, a small hatchet resting holstered to his brown belt, flannel shirt collar poking out above his thermal and under his coat, skin lightly coated with dirt.

However, he was not a native and nobody was watching.

The boy stuffed his hands into his pockets for warmth, trying to gather thoughts that felt as wispy as the clouds of breath that appeared before his eyes on each exhale.

The world is melting.

He smiled a smile that did not reach his eyes.

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Houses Have Scars Too

flipping-a-house

I was thinking today

about how houses often have scars like people.

And I think it’s true

that walls talk

and rooms tell stories,

and that the places with the scars speak the most.

 

My bedroom door doesn’t have a lock.

Well, it does,

but it’s been pulled and permanently dislocated,

by a brute

trying to loot

what was within.

Some days, the walls whisper of his conquest with resentment.

 

Across the hallway is a bathroom with a door whose lock remains enact,

but is chipped alongside its bottom

where it was rammed

repeatedly

into a pair of drawers with similar markings,

their paint peeled away like dead skin.

You see,

a clever child once used the pair to construct a shield so that the monster could not come in to one of the few sanctuaries available in the house.

She was strong,

but the backsplash still laments over the child’s whimpering

as the walls echo her old, pleading words

like a mantra,

of broken prayers that dissolved into the air

like the shower’s condensation.

 

At the end of the hallway, two walls meet,

great palls, thick as thieves,

creating a corner where small fingers were once pried off,

one by one,

as the monster laughed

and the child pleaded,

long before she was old enough to create her manifesto of not caring.

The two have vowed to keep their silence

for purposes of solidarity and mourning

for battles won and bitter losses.

 

Outside of the house itself lay the corpse-like remains of a giant beanstalk

whose branches once served as a ladder to  the rooftop sanctuary.

Now deserted,

this area still harbors pieces of broken chalk that were once used

to draw pictures of dragons

or send up signals of S.O.S

depending on what the situation warranted.

The rain always came,

washing away the words,

but it was something to do when the child’s mother was away,

her eyes tired of reading,

her legs tired of running.

 

The shingles still sing songs of of simpler times,

the ignorant innocence of childhood bliss.

 

Although I don’t hear from the house often,

when I do,

I am certain that even if demolished,

the houses replacement would be birthed with similar markings

by means of inheritance,

also like people.

 

 

 

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Moses the Murderer

This was written for a writing group prompt. It depicts the Biblical figure of Moses before and after he commits the murder and is told from his perspective.

 

Moses murder

The storm raged on inside my head-

As blows, they came

and words were said;

A stinging rain,

in wounds, of mead.

The storm raged on inside my head.

.

The storm raged on inside my head-

I watched him beat,

his garments shred.

I moved my feet

until with dread,

The storm raged on inside my head.

.

The storm raged on inside my head-

We danced a jive,

my brother fled.

From his side

the blood ran red.

The storm raged on inside my head.

.

The storm raged on inside my head-

I left no trace

from where I fled.

“You killed a man,”

is what he said.

The storm raged on inside my head.

.

The storm raged on inside my head-

I made to swim

my makeshift bed.

I sang a hymn

to him instead.

The storm raged on inside my head.

.

The storm raged on inside my head-

The bush, it burned

a carrot’s red.

My soul, it yearned

for blessed wed.

The storm raged on inside my head.

.

The storm raged on inside my head-

“Here am I,”

is what I said.

My books are five,

with hyssop spread.

The storm raged on inside my head.

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The Day that I Quit Keeping Secrets

Image

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/02/01/daily-prompt-the-end/

I quit keeping secrets

one day

when the bomb inside of my stomach

threatened to detonate and

destroy me

and everyone around me.

It was not easy,

you see,

for the mask that clung to my face

for years upon years

would not budge,

as I stripped it off slowly at first,

but realized this was not the way

for skin peeled with it

leaving me

silently screaming,

writhing

in excruciating pain.

I understood that quitting

(in my case)

meant ripping off the band-aid

that had been

put on me

at an early age

with a glue that appeared

to become more adhesive

as each year passed.

The day I quit keeping secrets,

all hell broke loose

for quitting anything

that has become a part of who you are

is near impossible.

Looking back,

I remember this day vaguely,

in snap-shots…

I am sitting in a car with a woman

who keeps glancing at me,

nervously,

chattering away as if the silence,

if left unbroken,

will absorb us both,

casting us into some kind of

oblivion.

I am in a white room

sitting in a cushioned chair,

the woman holding my hand,

my hand that is so cold that

it feels dead.

I am in a new room

with a desk and windows,

being asked questions about a secret…

my secret.

Each question causes my face to redden,

more and more,

as I,

an embarrassed thirteen year old,

think…

“Don’t you know

that people don’t talk about these things,

as you ask me for details,

dirty details,

as if discussing weather?”

I am hiding behind a sofa,

a soda machine

humming to my left,

radiating heat to my body,

which is so cold that it feels as if it is

not mine. Not mine.

Not mine.

“Come out,”

(The officer says)

“Come and see your mother.”

But I cannot see my mother,

now that she knows.

I cannot see my mother.

I cannot see my mother,

now that she knows.

“Mom stop crying,”

(I plead to her

as she clings to me,

clings to me as if her life

depends on it)

“This isn’t your fault”

I say,

“This isn’t your fault”

Fault. Fault. Whose fault?

Guilt, Shame, Guilt, Shame.

Whose fault?

That day we went home,

his truck still in the drive way,

a testament of

unfinished business.

I listened to music

as if my life

depended on it

as she cried and cried,

stuffing big black garbage bags.

So many big black garbage bags.

I will always see those bags,

looking malicious

as if they were stuffed

with bodies

instead of clothes

and other

personal items.

Perhaps they were filled

with each and every secret,

each and every lie

that was ever told

to keep my secret.

Each bag sitting on the curb

waiting to be taken

to the dump,

as if erasing

any trace of him

will erase the past.

That is the day that I quit;

The day that I quit

keeping secrets.

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